I came by this scriptural passage from John 5:36-44 a few mornings ago in my prayer, and I would like to share it with you:
“The works that the Father gave me to accomplish, these works that I perform testify on my behalf that the Father has sent me. Moreover, the Father who sent me has testified on my behalf. But you have never heard his voice nor seen his form, and you do not have his word remaining in you, because you do not believe in the one whom he has sent. You search the Scriptures, because you think you have eternal life through them; even they testify on my behalf. But you do not want to come to me to have life.
I do not accept human praise; moreover, I know that you do not have the love of God in you. I came in the name of my Father, but you do not accept me; yet if another comes in his own name, you will accept him. How can you believe, when you accept praise from one another and do not seek the praise that comes from the only God?“
As we read this passage, we can sense a deep sorrow from the Lord Jesus Christ. It is a sense of sorrow that comes from rejection…and it is not just any rejection, but the rejection of love. It is a sorrow that was felt after much love has been expressed and given, and all that was met were disbelief and rejection. I think each and every one of us can sense this sorrow and hurt in similar ways and would not wish it upon anyone, yet we are doing it to do God many times with our own life choices and decisions.
Are we choosing to love God with everything that we have or are we still living according to what we want? It seems like our post-modern way of life is “all about me” as we often hear people say, “You do you and I do me.” These two verses seem like the greatest advertisement lines for freedom since many often think of it as the ability to do whatever we want and how to live our life as we want! Yet, we know that it is not true for the ego is fragile and its desires are often confused and muddled by lesser goods. It knows that it wants more in order to be happy, yet at the same time, it keeps getting filled with more things without being really content. Perhaps it needs to seek and understand the higher purpose, the original calling, content, and mission that have been embedded and given to us by our Maker and ultimate Lover.
However, it seems like our society is telling us otherwise. It evokes, intimidates, and puts down those who want to seek greater, transcendental glory and love by labeling us in derogatory ways. It portrays God as a made-up depiction of human desires and manipulation of religious organizations to deter us from living the fullest potential and freedom as human beings. Nevertheless, here is the irony: the same people who cry wolf and labeling religions as manipulative often become manipulative themselves by being overly vocal, criticizing, degrading, oppressing, and bullying others who do not share their ideologies — as if their versions of truth and tolerance are the only ones valid. They degrade the truth in exchange for lesser, subjective, and manipulative goods because they can manipulate and control the mass with ambiguous words and trendy thoughts. It seems like if one person or a group of people can manipulate and influence popular opinions and say something long enough, it will start to be accepted as something “true” — even though it is not the truth. Even though they are appealing and seem-to-be cutting edge, all these things leave the hearers and enthusiasts empty in the end.
People who have an agenda or a need to justify themselves have no problem of hurting other people or downplay God’s truth for their own goods. Some use the name of God and some use their own name to discredit the everlasting with wordy, appealing mumble jumble. It is so easy for our post-modern world to ignore the perennial principle that is taught by many saints: “You should not put God to the test.” Yet, we as consumeristic people have no problem of testing Him in order to find the versions of the divine that we want. We shop around and have no problem of creating new melanges of spiritual realities that fit our lifestyle. Instead of tuning ourselves to God and His loving truth, we demand that God changes to fit our wants. We make God become what we want if He is to have our attention. We expect God to become a version of we want Him to be in order to have our love. We make God loyals to us and serves our wants — a butler, a provider, a sugar daddy, or a vending machine version of the divine — instead of someone who deserves our loving loyalty. We put God to the test and make Him ‘jump through hoops’ as to win the heart of us consumers.
God is the Lover of hearts as He made us out of love, formed and loved us into being. Therefore, the only right and proper way to know who we truly are and what we are called to be is to return this love in a personal, intimate, and selfless way. Instead of trying too hard to find out how to “do me,” it will be beneficial to find ourselves in and through the love of God. Just as our DNA’s tell us who we genetically are, our spiritual formation by the Lord and His love within our heart calls out deep from within. All of our temporary humanistic, sensual, or materialistic thirst and hunger are simply outward signs of the everlasting spiritual hunger for Him who made us out of love. Our soul yearned to be loved by the infinite love of God that nothing finite in this world can ever fill it. Our spirit cries out to Him because everything that is created by human hands is insufficient to satisfy the spiritual craving and love that are beyond the sentimental or physical levels.
I heard from a Lenten mission that every time we do the Sign of the Cross, we begin with the “I” but cross that “I” with the Cross itself. The Cross is the sign of love and salvation because the Lord Jesus chose to be hung, suffered, and died for the sake of love. Therefore, every time we do the Sign of the Cross, we cross our own desires of the “I” as we embrace the “we” of the Trinitarian love given by the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This personal and intimate communion with God nourishes and strengthens our communion and love for others as we choose to live for the greater love as we learn to make more sacrifice for the greater good of all.
Therefore, let us honestly ask ourselves. Are we truly searching for the true, living God or are we looking for something that fits our needs? Are we learning and seeking our true self in God or expecting to create the subjective and personal version of the divine to fit our lifestyle and wants? I would like to invite you to re-read the Scripture passage at the beginning of this reflection again. May we not reject or turn away God’s love but to love Him with our whole heart and being. May we be Christ to others as to bring the love of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in seeking His will and bringing Him to those whom we encounter each day. May we not harden our hearts because we are too scared letting go of ourselves but to love Him with everything that we have. Let our “I” be crossed and replaced with the “we” love of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit who loved and created us in, through, and for greater, life-giving, transformative, and everlasting love.